Tie vote means Castleman statue stays put for now

Committee tasked to decide fate of Castleman future deadlocked in tie vote

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The city’s attempt to remove the John B. Castleman monument from Cherokee Triangle came to an abrupt stop Wednesday night.

A favorable vote by the Cherokee Triangle Architectural Review Committee (ARC) could have greenlighted the removal of the Castleman statue. Instead, the committee ended deadlocked -- 3 to 3.

“We are disappointed with the committee’s decision and will evaluate next steps for the next few days,” Jean Porter, spokeswoman for Mayor Greg Fischer, said.

The statue sits in Cherokee Triangle, which is a historic preservation district. It is standard procedure for ARC to make a decision on changing landscape of a preservation district, Will Ford, with Develop Louisville, said.

There are supposed to be seven members of ARC. Three members are with Metro Government and four others are community volunteers. The four volunteers include a resident within the district, an architect, an owner of income-producing property located within the district, and a real estate professional.

However, WAVE 3 News learned there is an open position on the committee.

Fischer called for the Castleman monument to be removed by the end of last year.

“While Castleman was honored for contributions to the community,” Fischer said, “it cannot be ignored that he also fought to continue the horrific and brutal slavery of men, women and children; heralded that part of his life in his autobiography; and had his coffin draped with both a U.S. and Confederate flag.”

A majority of residents speaking before the vote Wednesday night wanted the statue to stay.

“Perhaps the statue could serve as a symbol of civic discussion and the opportunity for people to learn,” Walter Christopherson said, “and try not to base things on emotions but on actual facts.”

Castleman served as a Confederate officer during the Civil War. He helped establish many of the Olmsted parks, including Cherokee.

While he is regarded a hero by some, Courier Journal archives from 1916 indicate Castleman was a vocal advocate of segregation and fought to segregate the parks he helped create.

With over 100 years of history in the neighborhood, the Castleman statue means a lot to some -- and some residents aren’t afraid to show it, despite the history of the man honored in the statue.

“I think people are too afraid to be tagged as racist," Lynn Horrar said. "That’s what I think the big fear is.”

Horrar said she’s enjoyed the statue for decades living in Cherokee Triangle.

The statue has been vandalized three times since 2017. Horrar said that disappoints her.

“We consider it artwork,” Horrar said. “We consider it a symbol of our parks system. It's a part of who we are in the Triangle."

The mayor’s office proposes landscape to replace the statue.

Horrar hopes ARC considers selling the statue to the neighborhood association to avoid the statue going into storage.

“The silent majority is silent, and I am trying to speak up because I think it is the right thing to do,” Horrar said.

The status of negotiations to move the bronze statue and granite pedestal to Cave Hill Cemetery is unknown.

Vandalized and maligned, the John B. Castleman monument will stay, at the moment, in the very spot it has occupied since 1913, and the debate will continue.

The city can now appeal the decision to the Landmarks Commission.

Fate of Castleman Statue to be determined by review committee

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